Getting exposure for your business can be a tough ask- and with some many avenues to choose from it's hard to know what to focus on when. In this Q and A Julie Keegan shares her learnings around taking Wool on Wheels on the road- literally- and the impact this has had on her business.
Hi Julie! First of all, can you tell us what you do with Wool on Wheels?
I bring the variety of yarn that can be found at major trade events out to the regions that would otherwise only be able to view/purchase online. It is also a great opportunity for the dyers to get their product directly in front of their customers when they can't be there themselves.
What makes you passionate about what you do?
I love knitting with quality yarn, I love meeting fellow yarn lovers and I love driving around our country. This is the ultimate combination of my goals and skills to create a truly unique enterprise that serves the yarn community.
What's been the hardest part about your business journey and what have you learnt from that?
Cashflow. I can only be on the road so many days of the year so I run another business to keep things ticking when I'm not running yarn events. Anyone in this industry isn't in it to make millions (and neither am I) but we all need to eat. It will take longer to build this into a truly viable business but this is where the support from WE has been invaluable. The ideas and learnings gained from those on the same path and who are willing to see fellow female entrepreneurs succeed is fantastic.
Tell us about your year with Wool on Wheels this year:
I went all out! After a one week debut last year, I knew that life was too short to be stressing on behalf of someone else's business. If I was going to bust my boiler over logistics, it was damn well] going to be my own logistics! I drove Wool on Wheels around the whole country, 20 pop up shops over seven weeks. All up I will have completed 30 events this year, including a yarn market and a business conference designed with the yarn dyer in mind.
What have been my learnings from this year?
A) The importance of rest/breaks/sleep. Even though I was very strategic with rest days and drive times, I still got sick at the end of the trip. I had also forgotten about daylight savings and schedule that day was brutal because of it. And I only gave myself a three week window between return and the yarn market event. It all looked great at the start of the year but once October rolled around I was pretty wiped out. Tag on one more travel jaunt mid-November and I had skipped worn out and was neck deep in burnout.
B) Don't be afraid to ask for what you need. This trip was financially viable - but this is because out of seven weeks, I only had to pay for eight nights accommodation. After I had found billets with friends and family I reached out to the yarn community to help breach the gaps. People want to help you succeed!
C) don't be afraid to lean on your community. There are always going to be one or two people who say something horrible and send you into a negative spiral. While I was genuinely distressed by someone describing one of my events as a waste of time, I was determined to turn it around. I shared what had happened, I even gave myself a bit of a pep talk about what I had achieved so far, and then I asked for honest reviews. Not only did I get over 20 fresh reviews/recommendations, I got the biggest outpouring of mob love and support from my followers.
Has going on the road given WoW more profile and exposure?
Gosh yes. The whole country has now got first hand experience of what I offer. I'll be the first person to tell you that it was a giant experiment! Especially as there's no template for what I'm doing. I broke a lot of new ground this year and have laid a really solid foundation for years to come. I've started describing myself as mildly famous - I have been told several times that people feel like they're meeting a celebrity, I'm not going to lie - it's satisfying!
What's the one thing you've done this year that impacted your business the most?
I backed myself. It's been a tremendous amount of work, and I couldn't have done it without support from so many different people. Even though some days it doesn't feel like it, I know what I'm doing and I know what I want to achieve. My passions and my skills are finally aligned in a role that I never knew I wanted - I could never find the perfect 'job' because I had to make it for myself.
Connect with Julie:
Website: Wool On Wheels
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Hi! I'm Rach
I'm the Founder of She Owns it. I love helping Kiwi women grow their businesses through mentorship, coaching and community.